Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Moving or capable of moving with great speed; fast. See Synonyms at fast1.
  • adj. Coming, occurring, or accomplished quickly; instant: a swift retort.
  • adj. Quick to act or react; prompt: swift to take steps.
  • adv. Swiftly. Often used in combination: swift-running.
  • n. A cylinder on a carding machine.
  • n. A reel used to hold yarn as it is being wound off.
  • n. Any of various small dark insect-eating birds of the family Apodidae, related to the hummingbirds and noted for their long strong wings and swift flight.
  • n. Any of various small, fast-moving North American lizards of the genera Sceloporus and Uta.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. fast; quick; rapid.
  • adj. Capable of moving at high speeds.
  • n. The current of a stream.
  • n. A small plain-colored bird (of the family Micropodidæ) that resembles a swallow and is noted for its rapid flight. Common European swift: Cypselus, ∨ Micropus, apus. The common American, or chimney, swift: Chætura pelagica. The Australian swift: Chætura caudacuta. The European Alpine swift: Cypselus melba. The common Indian swift: Cypselus affinis.
  • n. A western fence lizard, swift, blue-belly, Sceloporus occidentalis -- (common western lizard; seen on logs or rocks)
  • n. The ghost moth.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Moving a great distance in a short time; moving with celerity or velocity; fleet; rapid; quick; speedy; prompt.
  • adj. Of short continuance; passing away quickly.
  • adv. Swiftly.
  • n. The current of a stream.
  • n. Any one of numerous species of small, long-winged, insectivorous birds of the family Micropodidæ. In form and habits the swifts resemble swallows, but they are destitute of complex vocal muscles and are not singing birds, but belong to a widely different group allied to the humming birds.
  • n. Any one of several species of lizards, as the pine lizard.
  • n. The ghost moth. See under Ghost.
  • n. A reel, or turning instrument, for winding yarn, thread, etc.; -- used chiefly in the plural.
  • n. The main card cylinder of a flax-carding machine.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Moving with great speed, celerity, velocity, or rapidity; fleet; rapid; speedy.
  • Ready; prompt; quick.
  • Of short continuance; swiftly or rapidly passing.
  • n. The swifter part of a stream; the current.
  • n. An adjustable machine upon which a skein of yarn, silk, or other thread is put, in order that it may be wound off.
  • n. The main card-cylinder in a flax-carding machine.
  • n. A bird of the family Cypselidæ: so called from its rapidity of flight.
  • n. A breed of domestic pigeons, of which there are several color-varieties.
  • n. The common newt or eft.
  • n. One of several small lizards which run with great swiftness, as the common brown fence-lizard of the United States, Sceloporus undulatus. See cut under Sceloporus.
  • n. A ghost-swift, ghost-moth, or goat-moth; one of the Epialidæ: so called from the rapid flight.
  • n. A goat-moth, Epialus vellida.
  • In a swift or rapid manner; swiftly.
  • To reef (a sail).
  • n. A tackle used in tightening standing rigging.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. United States meat-packer who began the use of refrigerated railroad cars (1839-1903)
  • n. an English satirist born in Ireland (1667-1745)
  • adj. moving very fast
  • n. a small bird that resembles a swallow and is noted for its rapid flight
  • n. common western lizard; seen on logs or rocks

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old English swift ("swift, quick"), from Proto-Germanic *swiftaz (“swift, quick”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)weip-, *(s)weib- (“to twist, wind around”). Cognate with Icelandic svipta ("to pull quickly"), Old English swīfan ("to revolve, sweep, wend, intervene"). More at swivel. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Thoas rules [8] the land, o'er barbarians, [Thoas,] who guiding his foot swift as the pinion, has arrived at this epithet [of Thoas, i.e. _the swift_] on account of his fleetness of foot.

    The Tragedies of Euripides, Volume I.

  • They believe that people, when they hear the term swift boat, know that this -- or believe that that is sort of a code for underhanded politics.

    CNN Transcript Aug 13, 2008

  • They believe that people when they hear the term swift boat, know that this -- or believe that that is sort of a code for underhanded politics.

    CNN Transcript Aug 13, 2008

  • Congressman John Murtha is blasting what he calls swift boat style attacks stemming from his fight with Steny Hoyer.

    CNN Transcript Nov 15, 2006

  • Congressman John Murtha today is blasting what he calls swift boat style attacks stemming from his fight with Steny Hoyer.

    CNN Transcript Nov 14, 2006

  • He is not r-rich, Max, and he is a little what you call swift, eh?

    A Tar-Heel Baron

  • Suddenly they encountered what we call the swift kick.

    A Straight Deal or The Ancient Grudge

  • Judge had three or four track-hounds, and four of which he called swift-hounds, the latter including one pure-bred greyhound bitch of wonderful speed and temper, a dun-colored yelping animal which was a cross between a greyhound and a fox-hound, and two others that were crosses between a greyhound and a wire-haired Scotch deer-hound.

    Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches

  • Analysts upgraded their target price for the company's stock on what they characterized as a swift turnaround in performance at the 90-plus-year-old firm, which has about $108-billion U.S. in assets.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • KINGSTON - THE UNITED STATES State Department commended Jamaica for what it described as the swift and safe handover of alleged drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke last Thursday, just hours after he waived his right to an extradition hearing.

    NationNews - Barbados

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